The topic for today’s Saturday Roundtable is this: If we could go back in time and be in charge of running the three Star Wars prequel movies (Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith), what would we do differently?
First off, I certainly would NOT have wanted to see any of the cherished original trilogy characters as kids or anything ridiculous like that. But that doesn’t mean I would have cast Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru as young action heroes. Each prequel film would have taken place in a different era, ranging from thousands to finally maybe a hundred years prior to Episode IV. I would have been a lot more interested in the very beginning of the Jedi and Sith orders, early on as prophecies are made and tenets to operate by are devised.
That way you can still have occasional hints towards what will come later (”No one will EVER make this Kessel Run in less than 18 parsecs!” and “One Sith will walk openly, his master will remain in shadows; no one will suspect their identity until it is TOO LATE!” and so on). I would be a lot more interested in the universe at large versus the origins of the handful of heroes and villains that decided the fate of their galaxy. I’m sure to play to the fans slightly that third prequel film would namedrop a couple lineages, or more likely show the origins of the man who would become Emperor Palpatine. Lots more moral gray areas and suspicious motivations, rather than the bland ineptness of the Jedi Order and far-too-easy manipulations of the Sith. How about you?
I won’t knock the machinations of Sidious because if you take a few steps back and look at them from a distance and get the whole picture, they’re really kinda Machiavellian. I will admit the Jedi were rather inept and should have been a bit more aware of what was happeneing around them. Casting Anakin as a eight year old was a misstep, and made the relation between him and Padme kinda creepy. I would’ve liked to have seen him aged a bit, a little more roguish. I think I could’ve accepted an older character, more hard boiled and less prone to naivette’. I think the eventual transformation into Vader would’ve been a lot easier to swallow that way. As far as the current Clone Wars series; aside from it being a total cash-in, are we supposed to be sympathetic toward the clone troopers who we know are going to wipe out the Jedi? Also, how are old time fans supposed to reconcile these crack commandos with the canon fodder of the original movies who could barely hit a target and were prone to hitting their heads when entering a room? Do I even need to say no Jar-Jar?
No Jar-Jar and no romantic dialogue, period. Anikan romancing Padme is still up there in “the most embarrassing cinema I’ve ever witnessed in my life.” But I think that’s a given, really. Is there anyone who’s not a thirteen year old girl that LIKED that?
I’m liking a lot of these points (especially not seeing so many of the original trilogy characters). Another thing I would add is LESS CGI. I know George was very proud of his cool toys, but he overdid it and it really became distracting. This is one of those times when less is more, y’know? If he’d done less CGI, he could have afforded some sets that weren’t deserts and the entire adventure wouldn’t have had to have so much time on Tatooine.
I think the single biggest, and often unmentioned, problem with the prequels is that you know exactly how it turns out. I really dislike movies that are leading up to a conclusion that I’m more than familiar with, because it doesn’t leave a lot of room for suspense and doubt. It’s reverse engineering a plot from a finish point.
So one option is simply to disconnect the prequels from the original trilogy by a factor of time, like Kyle mentioned. The video game Knights of the Old Republic went back thousands of years to tell their story, but they still had Jedi, Sith and a very Star Warsian feel — and it worked. The 4,000 year barrier also was sufficiently long enough so that even though it is a prequel, you don’t necessarily know what’s going to happen.
If we did have to stick with Lucas’ intention of telling the story of Darth Vader, I would’ve liked to see him become corrupt and evil and all dark side of the Force by sometime in the middle of episode one. Here’s an idea: they should have really turned the concept of good and evil on its ear, by making the Galactic Empire’s rise to power a perverted, noble attempt at wresting power from a very corrupt, despicable Republic. Make Vader the underdog, with a group of friends who are fighting for what they think is the right way to rule the galaxy, and in so doing, make us cheer them on. But then by the last film, they’ve gone too far — betrayals, friendships disintegrating, power corrupting — and the Empire ends up worse than the Republic was, making the Rebels the new noble force.